on social charity

JVS: When I read a passage like this, I am concerned about what is the subject of this "social charity." The human person is the substantial bearer of all human reality. The state is not a person. It is not a substance. It does not have an intellect and will of its own. There is no such thing as corporate guilt or corporate virtue that belongs to some collective "being" that transcends the persons who actually live and die.

The Trinity is the heart of the Church's social teaching. Here we have a multiplicity of persons, a unity of nature, a divine nature. All love is ordered to another person who actually exists. However, there is an order in this relationship. Sometimes it sounds like we are more responsible for those far off beings we do not know than we are for those we do. This is dangerous doctrine. It makes any real charity impossible. It smacks of Rousseau, of loving man but not one's actual neighbor. Sometimes it sounds like we should reduce everyone to the lowest common denominator in the name of the common good. The whole of Aquinas was in the opposite direction. We should bring out the full potential of everyone. That was the "common good" meant, not some kind of collective being. This meant that some are more talented, some will have more than others in a ways that has nothing to do with injustice.

The whole interview is well-worth reading.

No comments: